Reading Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
Tuesday, November 20th, 2018
Sunday, October 7th, 2018
Reading A Thread Across The Ocean by John Steele Gordon.
Saturday, September 29th, 2018
Reading New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson.
Sunday, September 16th, 2018
Reading The Power by Naomi Alderman.
Wednesday, September 12th, 2018
Reading Programmed Inequality by Marie Hicks.
Sunday, September 2nd, 2018
I finally got around to reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s one of those books that I kept hearing about from smart people whose opinions I respect. But I have to say, my reaction to the book reminded me of when I read Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist:
It was an exasperating read.
At first, I found the book to be a rollicking good read. It told the sweep of history in an engaging way, backed up with footnotes and references to prime sources. But then the author transitions from relaying facts to taking flights of fancy without making any distinction between the two (the only “tell” is that the references dry up).
Just as Matt Ridley had personal bugbears that interrupted the flow of The Rational Optimist, Yuval Noah Harari has fixated on some ideas that make a mess of the narrative arc of Sapiens. In particular, he believes that the agricultural revolution was, as he describes it, “history’s biggest fraud.” In the absence of any recorded evidence for this, he instead provides idyllic descriptions of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that have as much foundation in reality as the paleo diet.
When the book avoids that particular historical conspiracy theory, it fares better. But even then, the author seems to think he’s providing genuinely new insights into matters of religion, economics, and purpose, when in fact, he’s repeating the kind of “college thoughts” that have been voiced by anyone who’s ever smoked a spliff.
I know I’m making it sound terrible, and it’s not terrible. It’s just …generally not that great. And when it is great, it only makes the other parts all the more frustrating. There’s a really good book in Sapiens, but unfortunately it’s interspersed with some pretty bad editorialising. I have to agree with Galen Strawson’s review:
Much of Sapiens is extremely interesting, and it is often well expressed. As one reads on, however, the attractive features of the book are overwhelmed by carelessness, exaggeration and sensationalism.
Towards the end of Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari casts his eye on our present-day world and starts to speculate on the future. This is the point when I almost gave myself an injury with the amount of eye-rolling I was doing. His ideas on technology, computers, and even science fiction are embarrassingly childish and incomplete. And the bad news is that his subsequent books—Home Deus and 21 Lessons For The 21st Century—are entirely speculations about humanity and technology. I won’t be touching those with all the ten foot barge poles in the world.
In short, although there is much to enjoy in Sapiens, particularly in the first few chapters, I can’t recommend it.
If you’re looking for a really good book on the fascinating history of our species, read A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford . That’s one I can recommend without reservation.
Tuesday, August 28th, 2018
Reading The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin.
Sunday, August 26th, 2018
Reading The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin.
Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018
Reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.
Thursday, August 16th, 2018
This is such a lovely, lovely review from Marc!
Jeremy’s way of writing certainly helps, as a specialised or technical book on a topic like Service Workers, could certainly be one, that bores you to death with dry written explanations. But Jeremy has a friendly, fresh and entertaining way of writing books. Sometimes I caught myself with a grin on my face…
Saturday, July 21st, 2018
Reading Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.
Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
Reading Dawn by Octavia Butler.
Wednesday, July 4th, 2018
This is a lovely review of Going Offline from Garrett:
With his typical self-effacing humour (chapter titles include Making Fetch Happen and Cache Me If You Can), and easy manner, Jeremy explains how Service Workers, uh, work, the clever things you can do with them, and most importantly, how to build your own.
Best of all, he’s put it into action!
To that end, this site now has its own home-grown, organic, corn fed, Service Worker.
Monday, July 2nd, 2018
Speaking my brains in Boston
I was in Boston last week to give a talk. I ended up giving four.
This was my second time giving this talk at An Event Apart—the first time was in Seattle a few months back. It was also my last time giving this talk at An Event Apart—I shan’t be speaking at any of the other AEAs this year, alas. The talk wasn’t recorded either so I’m afraid you kind of had to be there (unless you know of another conference that might like to have me give that talk, in which case, hit me up).
After giving my talk in the morning, I wasn’t quite done. I was on a panel discussion with Rachel about CSS grid. It turned out to be a pretty good format: have one person who’s a complete authority on a topic (Rachel), and another person who’s barely starting out and knows just enough to be dangerous (me). I really enjoyed it, and the questions from the audience prompted some ideas to form in my head that I should really note down in a blog post before they evaporate.
The next day, I went over to MIT to speak at Design 4 Drupal. So, y’know, technically I’ve lectured at MIT now.
I wasn’t going to do the same talk as I gave at An Event Apart, obviously. Instead, I reprised the talk I gave earlier this at Webstock: Taking Back The Web. I thought it was fitting given how much Drupal’s glorious leader, Dries, has been thinking about, writing about, and building with the indie web.
I really enjoyed giving this talk. The audience were great, and they had lots of good questions afterwards. There’s a video, which is basically my voice dubbed over the slides, followed by a good half of questions afterwards.
Lea had been in touch to ask if I would speak at this meet-up, and I was only too happy to oblige. I tried doing something I’ve never done before: a book reading!
No, not reading from Going Offline, my current book which I should encouraging people to buy. Instead I read from Resilient Web Design, the free online book that people literally couldn’t buy if they wanted to. But I figured reading the philosophical ramblings in Resilient Web Design would go over better than trying to do an oral version of the service worker code in Going Offline.
And with that, my time in Boston was at an end. I was up at the crack of dawn the next morning to get the plane back to England where Ampersand awaited. I wasn’t speaking there though. I thoroughly enjoyed being an attendee and absorbing the knowledge bombs from the brilliant speakers that Rich assembled.
The next place I’m speaking will much closer to home than Boston: I’ll be giving a short talk at Oxford Geek Nights on Wednesday. Come on by if you’re in the neighbourhood.
Thursday, June 21st, 2018
People of Boston: I’m doing a book reading at your CSS meet-up on Wednesday, June 27th.
(Marketing genius that I am, I won’t be reading from my newest book, which is on sale now, but from the previous book, which is available for free online.)
Tuesday, June 19th, 2018
Reading Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.
Monday, June 18th, 2018
Praise for Going Offline
People have been saying nice things on their blogs, which is very gratifying. It’s even more gratifying to see people use the knowledge gained from reading the book to turn those blogs into progressive web apps!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a designer, a junior developer or an experienced engineer — this book is perfect for anyone who wants to learn about Service Workers and take their Web application to a whole new level.
I highly recommend it. I read the book over the course of two days, but it can easily be read in half a day. And as someone who rarely ever reads a book cover to cover (I tend to quit halfway through most books), this says a lot about how good it is.
I was delighted to discover a straightforward, very approachable reference on designing a ServiceWorker-backed application: Going Offline by Jeremy Keith. The book is short (I’m busy), direct (“Here’s a problem, here’s how to solve it“), opinionated in the best way (landmine-avoiding “Do this“), and humorous without being confusing. As anyone who has received unsolicited (or solicited) feedback from me about their book knows, I’m an extremely picky reader, and I have no significant complaints on this one. Highly recommended.
If you’re interested in the “offline first” movement or want to learn more about Service Workers, Going Offline by Jeremy Keith is a really gentle and highly accessible introduction to the topic.
Jeremy nails it again with this beginner-friendly introduction to Service Workers and Progressive Web Apps.
Jeremy’s technical writing is as superb as always. Similar to his first book for A Book Apart, which cleared up all my confusions about HTML5, Going Offline helps me put the pieces of the service workers’ puzzle together.
People have been saying nice things on Twitter too…
It’s a fantastic read and a simple primer for getting Service Workers up and running on your site.
Of course, if you’re looking to take your website offline, you should read @adactio’s wonderful book
Ok, I’m done reading @adactio’s Going Offline book and as my wife would say, it’s the bomb dot com.
If that all sounds good to you, get yourself a copy of Going Offline in paperbook, or ebook (or both).
Sunday, June 10th, 2018
¶, &, @, ‽, ☺, #, and ☛.
Thursday, May 10th, 2018
Tuesday, May 8th, 2018
Reading Gnomon by Nick Harkaway.